He's our cleaning man.

Is "cleaning man" the natural term? What else is used? Cleaner?

Can "janitor" be used about someone who cleans an office building?

  • 2
    Can I suggest a person who cleans an office is an "office cleaner" – James K Jan 14 at 22:47

Stereotypically, we'd say "cleaning lady" in the US to refer to a female housekeeper, or to be humorously condescending to a male in that role (such as this clip from the movie Super Troopers, where the Chief makes Trooper Farva do cleaning work as a punishment). But we usually don't say "cleaning man", and a "cleaner" is often a euphemism for an assassin or hitman, but as an American, I would interpret a cleaner as someone working at the cleaners, as in a dry cleaning shop for laundry.

For a person of either sex who cleans an office building, janitor would be the best word choice. Building custodian (or just custodian) is another term sometimes used for janitors at schools. Or if you want to be funny in a friendly way, you could call him a "sanitation engineer".

  • 1
    Good answer, but - because it is too US-oriented to serve as a full answer - I have added my own as well. – rjpond Jan 15 at 4:59

In British English we would say "cleaner". If it was absolutely necessary to specify the gender, we'd be more likely to say "male cleaner" than "cleaning man" (which sounds odd, even though the term "cleaning lady" is well established and still fairly often used).

(Tim's answer may be a very good answer for American English. But I would certainly not equate a "cleaner" with someone working in a dry cleaning shop. I worked in an office until recently and we called the cleaner "the cleaner". Certainly, one could say "office cleaner", but I would suspect that "cleaner" is the more common term.)

For a school and some institutions, "caretaker" may be used, although it is not quite the same thing. It may be that some such institutions have only one caretaker but multiple cleaners, and that the caretaker's duties are more varied than just cleaning. The term "janitor" is not used in England or Wales; it may have some currency in Scotland.

  • 1
    I'd also suggest that the only time Brits would confuse a cleaner with a hit man would be if it involved Harvey Keitel;) – gone fishin' again. Jan 19 at 12:05

Yes, either “cleaning man” if they are male, “cleaner” or “janitor” works in your sentence.

From Wikipedia

A janitor (American English, Scottish English), custodian, porter, cleaner or caretaker is a person who cleans and maintains buildings such as hospitals, schools, and residential accommodation. Janitors' primary responsibility is as a cleaner.

  • Not convinced by this answer - I've never heard the term "cleaning man". – rjpond Jan 15 at 4:52

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